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by Time Magazine
"Why should the devil have all the good tunes?" asked 18th Century Evangelist Rowland Hill, in a plea for hymns that would rival the popular music of his day.
Last week in Nacogdoches, Texas (pop. 11,700) more than 4,000 delegates to the interdenominational Tri-State (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas) Singing Convention were still challenging the devil's priority. In spite of heavy rains, sticky red clay roads and a football game across the way, they crowded into the white frame gymnasium at Stephen Austin State Teachers College. There for two straight days they kept the rafters ringing with gospel jazz, gospel hillbilly ballads, gospel blues.
Quartets and soloists from all over the South hopped onto the platform to take their turns at singing with piano or guitar accompaniment. In between, professional gospel song leaders led the audience in catchy religious songs not found in regular denominational hymnals. Most of the men, women, and children attending had been going to gospel sings all their lives (eastern Texas averages about 300 local song get-togethers a week).
TIN PAN ALLEY. To feed the South's continually growing appetite for such music, a gospel Tin Pan Alley has grown up with headquarters in Dallas. Presiding over it is bright-eyed, 60-year-old Jesse Randall Baxter, whose Stamps-Baxter Music & Printing Co., Inc., employs 50 people, does $300,000 worth of business a year. It turns out paper-bound song quarterlies, a monthly magazine, the Gospel Music News (circ. 20,000), and books of gospel favorites which have sold as many as 4,000,000 copies.
Five full-time religious songwriters and two song editors grind out a large part of the some 600 new gospel songs published by the firm every year. To outside writers (who submit more than 5,000 songs a year) Stamps-Baxter pays
"Reprinted by permission from Time, Vol. 54, No. 19, November 7, Copyright 1949, Time Inc."